Supplements are just that…supplements. They are not to be used to replace your whole food intake. There is nothing that can replace the benefits of consuming clean whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, organic animal products, whole grains, nuts and seeds. However, with our busy lifestyles, high mental and physical stress, and our poor food environment, there are some deficiencies we must account for by taking certain supplements. Below is the State of Fitness: Supplement Essentials to round out your overall nutritional intake.
SOF Supplement Essentials
Since I was 18 years old I have been very intrigued by nutritional supplements. To say that the supplement industry is confusing is an understatement! While I am a firm believer that there are many beneficial supplements available, there are more that are just a waste of money. Sifting through all of the bad supplements can be a difficult task when trying to see what can help your diet. When looking at supplements I want a good bang for the buck. So hear are the three criteria I address when recommending a supplement:
- Correct deficiencies
- Optimize levels of certain key nutrients
- Focus on supplements that can impact multiple systems
Below are 3 of the supplement essentials to round out your overall nutritional intake that I recommend.
SFH and Nordic Naturals Fish Oil
This supplement really is a no brainer, and most people are already aware of marine oil benefits, but it is worth repeating. Fish Oil is a very critical supplement that I feel just about everyone should be taking. This magic fish oil is one of the most studied supplements in the world, and you will have a hard time finding research, doctors, or nutritionists that are against taking any type of marine oil.
They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids containing (eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)) that are acids that play a critical role in brain function, anti-inflammatory and are hormone like compounds that affect almost every system in the body.
Why can’t we just eat some fish and be good you say? First, most of our fish is either poorly farmed raised, or contains a lot of heavy metals, and do not have the amount of EPA and DHA necessary to reap the full benefits of this superfood (there are still plenty of great fish in the sea, so keep eating fish). I prefer cod liver oil as it provides a nice dose of vitamin D as well.
Green Food Supplements
These take a very close second to marine oils in my book. It is not breaking news that we don’t eat enough veggies, especially the green ones. In a perfect world we would eat an abundance of raw organic vegetables each day. In this world we live in, I don’t know many people, maybe 1 or 2 that eat enough colorful vegetables each day. Even those people that I do know STILL take some type of green food supplement.
Green food supplements help improve energy, mineral balance, and digestion. They are also rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and phytochemicals which help to detoxify the body and keep it alkaline. Most people know the benefits of eating veggies, but few actually do it!
My suggestion is to spend $25-$50 dollars a month on some type of green food supplement. Spirulina, chlorella, wheatgrass, and green food powders or tablets all qualify. I prefer green food powders since they have a variety of veggies and superfoods in them and are the most cost effective.
After 14 years of taking a green food powder, the best I have found is Vitamineral Greens by Health Force and Amazing Grass. Taking a green food supplement also is an insurance policy for the body; so on days where your nutritional intake is less than optimal you can at least count on the nutrients that you get from a good green supplement.
Branched Chain Amino Acids
This is a supplement that we have recommended to our clients for a variety of reasons, and has become a multifunctional supplement. Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s) are comprised of 3 key amino acids, L-leucine, L-Isoleucine, and L-Valine. The BCAAs are among the nine essential amino acids for humans, accounting for 35% of the essential amino acids in muscle proteins and 40% of the preformed amino acids.
They aid in negating muscle tissue breakdown, improve protein synthesis, improve endurance, and they spare and build muscle tissue. BCAA’s are faster digesting than most other protein sources such as chicken, fish, eggs, and whey, making them optimal for post-workout nutrition. Quickly increasing amino acid levels in the blood improves recovery, muscle growth, and fat loss. They are also a great pre-, and intra- workout-drink to keep amino acid blood levels high.
For those of you practicing an Intermittent Fasting lifestyle, BCAA’s become very valuable. Taking BCAA’s during this time can help spare muscle tissue, and provide energy during times when calories are low. As a bonus, there have also been some studies reporting the benefits of BCAA’s on brain and liver function. For anyone working out at a moderate to high level of intensity and volume, BCAA’s are a useful tool to make some great health gains.
Grass-Fed Whey Protein Powder
One of the most popular supplements out there is whey protein powder. I don’t think that you have to supplement your protein, since you would be just fine if you only ate other quality protein sources, such as organic eggs and grass-fed beef. But it can be hard to find quality protein sources, like cuts of meat that are clean and convenient.
That is where whey protein comes in. Whey protein is highly bio-available and is loaded with muscle building amino acids, such as branched chain amino acids. It also mixes up easy and tastes great. There are many types of whey protein out there but quality assurance is key.
Grass-fed whey protein is the highest quality whey protein that you can consume. At State of Fitness, we only carry the BEST supplements that I can find. When I came across SFH Grass-Fed Whey, I knew I had found a phenomenal protein powder.
There are many other quality whey protein sources that are sold that are not grass-fed. Optimum Nutrition is a high quality whey protein that I recommend as well. Grass-fed whey protein is just better!
You can utilize grass-fed whey protein in various scenarios. You can use it by itself as a meal or snack (it tastes great on it’s own), after a workout to replenish your amino acid stores to help you recover, during a fasted state when you are in need of some food but want to keep calories and carbohydrates low, or it can be a part of your daily “super shake” that I recommend. Consuming a “super shake” each day is the easiest way to provide your body with an array of essential nutrients, especially on days that it is tough to get all of your fruits, veggies and healthy fats in.